How Do You Develop Great Leaders?

Very frequently I get asked the question, “How do you develop great leaders?” It is a question as old as time. And it is a very important question.

Great leaders develop great leaders. Great leadership is all about growing people and preparing them and the organization for a bright future. Everything rises and falls on leadership so the need to develop those great leaders is ongoing.

Developing great leaders requires the following:

  • Modeling
  • Teaching
  • Coaching
  • Supporting

So, what is a great leader? I would suggest that you take the time to list the characteristics of great leadership. This will give you the target you are aiming for. Our work shows that the following is on most peoples’ list of characteristics of a great leader:

  • Insightful
  • Strong under pressures
  • The ability to get results
  • Has a great set of values that they live consistently
  • Truly values and cares about people
  • Inspires people to be their very best
  • Transparent
  • Honest
  • Inclusive

I’m sure you have other characteristics as well. List them all.

Do you work to be your best in all these areas? You see, you cannot give what you do not have. We need to be a role model of great leadership if we are going to develop great leaders.

Always be showing what great leadership is. The adage, “Do as I say, not as I do” simply will not work!

Engage the people you are developing by teaching them what great leadership is. Tell them why you made decisions. Connect your actions to the organizational values. Explain your actions so they can learn from them.

Provide valuable feedback, in the moment, to the people you lead. Do not wait for an annual review! People respond when the feedback is directly connected to the action taken. This should always be positive as you are building your people, not tearing them down.

Counsel and be there for your team. When they see you as a coach and someone who wants them to excel, they will open up and share. People need to know others believe in them and are there for them. Taking “next steps” is not always easy for emerging leaders. When you are there to support them, it becomes a natural progression for these leaders to take.

Developing great leaders means taking on the responsibility to be a great leader and through modeling, teaching, coaching, and supporting helping the people you lead grow into leadership positions themselves. This is the mark of a great leader.


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